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Sunday 18 February 2018

Frontline policing is not prioritised in An Garda Síochana - Garda Inspectorate

Mark Toland, Deputy Chief Inspector, at a Press Conference held by the Garda Inspectorate to mark the publication of the Inspectorate's tenth report.Picture:Arthur Carron
Mark Toland, Deputy Chief Inspector, at a Press Conference held by the Garda Inspectorate to mark the publication of the Inspectorate's tenth report.Picture:Arthur Carron
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Garda Inspectorate has said that frontline policing is not prioritised in An Garda Síochána and there is a “lack of visible garda presence” in communities.

The agency is this morning briefing TDs and Senators on its priorities for the near future and gave an outline of its recent reports and how their implementation by the Gardaí.

Deputy Chief Inspector Mark Toland said the majority of its recommendations have been accepted by the Gardaí, but they're not always implemented.

He detailed the Inspectorate's Changing Policing in Ireland 2015 report.

He said that his organisation “found an ineffective structure, struggling to cope with the modern demands on Garda services.”

Mr Toland added: “We found that people are not always on duty at the right times, in the right places and doing the right things.”

He also said there is a “two-tier community policing system exists, with high numbers of gardaí in Dublin, but significantly less in other areas, particularly rural Ireland.”

Mr Toland also raised concern that not all crimes reported to Gardaí end up being recorded on the Pulse computer system.

He said this makes auditing of the number of crimes "impossible" adding; "it's really difficult to decide how many guards you need if you don't know how busy you are ."

In an overview he said: “We believe that front-line services are not prioritised and protected.

“All other police services we engaged with have restructured, reduced the number of administrative areas and now operate from far leaner structures, with fewer managers in order to protect the front line.

“In total, 83pc of garda resources are deployed to front-line services, compared to 93pc in some other police services.

“Our evidence including analysis of data, and feedback from the communities we visited, highlights the lack of a visible Garda presence,” he said.

According to Mr Toland the force performs some functions like prosecuting District Court cases and transporting remand prisoners that “may be more appropriate to other agencies”.

“At least 1,500 Gardaí are in non-operational roles that could be released for patrol, investigation and community policing duties,” Mr Toland added.

He said that An Garda Síochána has “broadly accepted the vast majority of the Inspectorate recommendations.

“The Inspectorate does not have the statutory authority to oversee the implementation of its recommendations and unfortunately, full implementation of many of the recommendations has yet to be achieved,” he said.

He called Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan's The Commissioner’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme “an ambitious reform plan.”

“The Commissioner now has her top team in place, new gardaí have joined and the Government has provided significant funding for crucial technology, new vehicles, new stations and refurbishments,” Mr Toland added.

“The Inspectorate looks forward to working with the Garda Síochána to help them to achieve the significant changes planned.”

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